I've always thought that 18th and 19th C. wrought iron belonged, with early lighting, in a separate category. Crafted largely of wrought and tinned iron and brass, the products of
early metalsmiths were designed for use but infused with personal style. They furnished
the kitchen, equipped the hearth, provided the light and made life in the colonies possible. Today these same pieces make life enjoyable as well. We'll bring you the best we can
find and we guarantee their authenticity.
Halsey Munson Americana
204 North Summit Avenue
Decatur, Illinois 62522
All rights reserved.
Signed and Dated Traveling Lantern
Signed and dated mid-19th C. traveling candle lantern in original asphaltum surface. Open, 3” square and 5” high. Folded, 3” x 2” x ¾”. Mica windows, swiveling candle socket, even a rack for extra candles and matches. An identical lantern now in the Ford Museum is shown on p. 193 of Antiques Treasury.
Bronze Chamber Stick
Extremely early bronze chamberstick with excellent, deep patina. Rimmed drip pan 5 1/8” in diameter. Triple riveted 6½” handle with piercework trefoil decoration. Seamed and turned candle cup (post-1710) with mounting stud threaded to the drip pan and cross-peened on the underside. Although the use of chambersticks dates well into the early 17th C. in Europe (similar sticks appear in Pieter Claesz still lifes from the 1620s), examples from this early period are exceedingly rare, especially in bronze.
The Best Bed Warmer I've Ever Seen
Extraordinary early to mid-18th C. bed warming pan in brass, copper and forged iron. The pan’s copper alloy lid is decorated in raised brass with a 5-spoke pinwheel, butterflies between the spokes, in the center a horse with one hoof raised, all enclosed within an embossed rope-patterned rim. The lid is densely pierced with circles, hearts and birds. Forged iron throat, smoke-blackened turned walnut handle, hammered brass pan apparently dovetailed then skimmed. The pan was repaired at the rim and at the hinge at some point with heavy copper and brass rivets. 48”L and 13” in diameter. Without even a close second, this is the best and probably also the earliest warming pan I’ve ever seen. Dutch or French, ca. 1700-1750.
Early 19th C. Chamberstick
Ca. 1825-1830 heavy brass chamberstick with accompanying witch’s hat douter. Seamed construction with wire-rolled rim and original lifter tab. Mellow oxidized surface, perfect condition. England. 5¾”H.
Rare Tole Painted 10”
Sheet Iron Candle Holder
Unusual, tall 10” tole painted sheet iron candle holder with a 6½” crimped base, a 3” crimped drip pan, under a candle socket with folded rim, and a gracefully scrolled sheet iron handle. This general form was typically used for an Ipswitch betty or an open pan lamp. I’m irresistibly drawn to the exceptional and this is the only example I can recall made to accept a wax candle. Inside the base, and much worn from repeated cleanings, a pair of Berlin, CT-style green and salmon painted flower heads are still visible, encircled by the same salmon teardrop brush strokes that rim the drip pan above. Excellent condition with a minor perforation rust on the base. CT, ca. 1800-1850.
Table Top Candle Holder
Intriguing table top candle holder with weighted base, adjustable sheet iron shade and candle arm. 18” tall. With the exception of a few made in Philadelphia, almost all candle holders in this form were Continental. Typically, they had brass center posts and adjusting hardware, and conical shades painted to match the bases. This piece is a simplified version of the form, with iron standard and sheet iron shade and base. Only the finial is brass. The shades on Continental products could be adjusted up and down, as can the shade on this lamp, but it also adjusts its angle to both reflect the candle’s illumination and shield the eyes from its glare. Classic American ingenuity and I believe this candle holder is, in fact, American-made: Simplification of fancy European forms is characteristic of American adaptations, and this piece has a long history of ownership in the Williamsburg, VA family who loaned it to Colonial Williamsburg for an exhibition in 1993. Ca. 1800-1825.
Hexagonal Candle Lantern
in original blue-green paint. Although it certainly spent time outside, possibly in a carriage house, it has so many careful refinements that it’s hard to refer to it as a “barn lantern.” Both top and bottom Atlantic white pine boards are chamfered to reduce apparent thickness; the posts are tenoned through both top and bottom, pegged at the top, wedged from beneath and secured with wood pins at each corner; the posts are subtly molded; a rising and falling glass half pane gives access to the square nailed sheet iron candle socket. Of course, nothing survives 175 years without a flesh wound or two: the top has a narrow heat crack, two posts have sheared off even with the top surface, and the underside of one corner is chipped. Ca. 1825-1865, probably Eastern U.S. 13”H and 4” on a side. $1,125
Wrought Iron Candleholder
With Wooden X-Base
In the world of truly early lighting, this is a fairly rare piece. It’s what lighting scholar John Caspall termed a “corner standard rushnip.” He was referring to 18th English lighting used to illuminate dark corners in traditionally under-lit homes. But this combination rushlight and candleholder has a spoke shaved white pine shaft standing on an X-form base of American white oak. 32” high and 15” across the base. The wrought iron element has a twistwork passage in the stem and the rushlight’s jaws are counterweighted by a pivoting arm that terminates in a wrapped cone candle socket. Ca. 1750-1800, found in Cornish, ME, and probably American.
Signed Early 19th C. Paint-Decorated Sheet Iron Candle Sconce
Less than 1% of all American painted tinware is signed, and the initials in yellow below the hanger hole are those of the unidentified decorator. The tinware industry started in Berlin, CT with the Pattison family who trained other tinsmiths over the years. Among them was Stephen North who later established his own tinshop in Fly River, NY. North grew a successful operation and trained his workers in the decorative styles he had learned in Connecticut. Martin and Tucker in their 4-volume American Painted Tinware show a Connecticut decorative form identical to the backplate on this sconce on p. 21 of Vol. 1. On pp. 84-91 they also illustrate a ropework form from the North tinshop that, although more vertical, is very similar to Berlin style. This sconce could be Berlin work, dating 1740-1850, or North tinshop work 1790-1841. In either case, a signed piece of American toleware in this condition is almost unprecedented. $3,200
Sand Weighted Double
Early 19th C. sheet iron tabletop candlestand with a double socket adjustable drip tray and a sand-weighted base. Usually, sand-ballasted stands adjust candle height with the friction of one or two sprung arms against the center post. This one is unusual in that a hidden mechanism inside the canister that supports the drip tray performs the same function. An uncommonly sophisticated design. Interestingly, an early owner elected to limit vertical travel by wrapping the post with thread and sealing it with wax, precisely like the collar that joins the blown glass bulbs of pre-1760 sand glasses. 31” tall.
Top Hat Campaign Torch
Starting in the 1830s, and hitting their stride in the 1860s with the Lincoln-Douglas presidential election, political campaigns were characterized by popular demonstrations, never more spectacular than in nighttime torchlight parades in which demonstrators waved pole-mounted gimballed lanterns—coal oil in the 1860s, kerosene in the 1880s—in support of their candidates. The lanterns took an assortment of forms, from simple canisters to eagles to the beaver hats of Lincoln’s party. That beaver hat torch form was re-born by the Columbia Club in the 1880 presidential campaign in which Civil War General Benjamin Harrison defeated incumbent Grover Cleveland to become America’s 23rd president. Parade torchlights attributable to a particular candidate are rare, and this one is in stunning condition, including an authentic braided wick.
6½”L x 4½”w x 6”H. $1,300
Possible American Wrought Iron
Excellent pair of 18th C. wrought iron pipe or ember tongs. American or English, but given their weight and style of construction, quite likely American. Made by a skilled smith, the details are subtle and simple, but elegant. The tapering arms have precisely matching twistwork passages and end in leaf-shaped jaws with in-rolled tips to better grip the glowing coal on its way to the pipe. Boxed hinge with internal pivot, tamper stud and rattail hanger hook. 16½”L. A small group of similar pipe tongs were sold when the Sorber collection of early American iron went to auction in 2005.
Signed 18th C. Box Wax Jack
One of the less common forms of 18th C. wax jack. Most are much more elaborate with spring-loaded jaws and embellished columns. This is a simple box wax jack that probably would have sat on a desk; a canister with a lid mounting the equivalent of a candle socket. The wax snake is contained in the base and pulled up through the candle socket as it burned low. Typically, these provided the wax to seal letters and other documents. For the sake of accuracy there is denting to the loop handle. 3½”H x 3”W.